Burkhart, ex-umpire, pitcher, dies at 89
By CHUCK CAVALARIS, firstname.lastname@example.org
Former major league umpire Ken Burkhart of Knoxville will be buried at 2 p.m. Sunday at Woodlawn Cemetery.
Mr. Burkhart, who was 89, passed away Wednesday at Baptist Hospital. Although he had been feeling better recently, he had been hospitalized for 15 days.
The family will receive friends 6-8 tonight at Stevens Mortuary.
Mr. Burkhart was a pitcher and helped the St. Louis Cardinals win the 1946 World Series. He also played for the Cincinnati Reds and was known for an unorthodox delivery and tricky offspeed pitch.
"I did a good pitching job," Mr. Burkhart said during an interview at his home in Halls last July. "I loved my experiences with all of the ballplayers back then and I wish they were still playing today."
Mr. Burkhart's catcher and roommate was Joe Garagiola and his former Cardinals teammates included Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter, Harry "The Hat" Walker, Marty Marion and Red Schoendienst.
Mr. Burkhart retired in 1949 because of an injury to his right elbow. He had a career record of 27-20, including 18-8 with 12 complete games and four shutouts as a rookie in 1945.
Mr. Burkhart was born in Knoxville in 1915 and grew up on a 65-acre farm off Millertown Pike. He moved to Ohio as a teenager. After his baseball career ended, he was an umpire from 1952 until 1973 and spent 17 seasons in the major leagues. One of the highlights was working back-to-back no-hitters by Gaylord Perry and Ray Washburn on consecutive days in September of 1968.
Mr. Burkhart also was involved in one of the more controversial plays in baseball history during the opening game of the 1970 World Series between Baltimore and Cincinnati.
Mr. Burkhart was knocked on his backside when Orioles catcher Elrod Hendricks lunged to make a tag on a sliding Bernie Carbo, who was trying to score on an infield grounder. Mr. Burkhart thought he saw Hendricks make the tag and called Carbo out, but television replays and newspaper photographs showed that Hendricks tagged Carbo with his mitt and had the ball in his other hand.
Reds manager Sparky Anderson vehemently protested during a game at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati.
Commissioner Bowie Kuhn requested extra security the next day when Mr. Burkhart was positioned along the right-field line.
"I'll tell you what Casey Stengel told me after looking at a lot of pictures," Burkhart said last summer. "Casey said, 'Carbo missed the plate, Hendricks missed the tag and you missed the call.' You know what? After all these years, I think ol' Casey might have been right about that one."